Fit Bit for wheelchair users

Picture of a hand on a wheelchair wheel showing a wearable fitness trackerFitness watches, or fitness trackers are selling like hot cakes. But what about wheelchair users? Lack of fitness is just as much an issue for many wheelchair users, especially if they live a relatively sedentary lifestyle. So Apple has come to the rescue. The following item was found on FastCo website:

“Two weeks ago, Apple made a seemingly small announcement at its annual Worldwide Developer’s Conference. Starting in September, the Apple Watch will support wheelchair users, allowing them to track their fitness goals the same as anyone else. But this feature is a big deal to the millions of people around the world who live their lives in wheelchairs. It was also an incredible technical challenge to pull off, requiring Apple to mount the most comprehensive study ever on fitness among wheelchair users, as well as a complete overhaul to the design of its fitness tracking algorithms.”

To read the full article go to the FastCo Design website.



Being a good sport: including everyone

Picture of young women on a netball court.Sporting activities can be both enjoyable and healthy. Consequently, introducing young people to sport and keeping them involved can have long term positive effects. However, young people with disability are involved to a lesser extent. While there are some specialised programs for children and young people, this may not be the way of the future. Susanna Geidne and Kajsa Jerlinder tackle this issue in the latest Sport Science Review journal.  After a systematic search of peer-reviewed articles, they conclude,

“We must go from adapting physical activity for disabled persons to adapting physical activity for all people, because the diversity of people’s reasons for doing sports, their differing backgrounds and their uniqueness all demand it. Such an approach will result in more people doing sports for longer in life, which will benefit everyone, both individually and at the societal level.”

Note: Sport and Recreation Victoria are doing great work on inclusion and have produced a useful handbook.


Barriers to participation in sport

Girl in a swimming race wearing blue cap and gogglesProfessor Simon Darcy has co-authored a paper on the barriers to participation in sport. While the article is somewhat technical with statistical analyses, the methodology is a valuable model for researching the barriers encountered by people with disability in other contexts. Needless to say, the barriers were found to be complex, but where physical access is available, the efforts must now go to the customer service and membership side of sport.

Enabling Inclusive Sport Participation: Effects of Disability and Support Needs on Constraints to Sport Participation, by Simon Darcy, Daniel John Lock and Tracey Taylor is published by Leisure Sciences. The pre-published pdf is available on the site. Those with access to Research Gate can download the full paper.  


Universal design in sport and recreation

Design layout for an open space showing pathwaysThe Victorian Department of Sport and Recreation has produced an informative six minute video presented by an architect. It presents the case for universal design in the built environment and showcases what has been achieved by thinking and designing universally.This video is a good reference for explaining universal design to the uninitiated making the point that you don’t have to be a specialist designer to think and design inclusively. 

The website also includes a link to their guide: Design for Everyone: A Guide To Sport And Recreation Settings. The webpage makes the distinction between accessibility and universal design.  “It is separate from accessible design as Universal Design is based on the equitable use of a facility and social inclusion and not the measurement of accessible design features and meeting minimum legislative requirements.”

A previous post featured Camp Manyung and its inclusive design and practice – Victorian sponsored recreational camp.


A ride for all – tree tops crazy rider

tree tops crazy riderTree Tops Crazy Rider offers fun for all ages and abilities. The video link shows people having fun. The ride, which is located on the Central Coast, is accessible inasmuch as it can be in a natural environment. The information below the video link provides details on how people with disability can participate. The main website provides the general details including costs and opening times. Go to the Crazy Rider section and download the pdf brochure to get more information about accessibility.

Our crazy rider has full accessibility for people of almost all abilities. We have accessible toilets and pathways. Sadly because we are situated in a state forest we are not allowed to have plumbing or cemented pathways in our park. Our paths are made of gravel and our toilets are portaloos. We have an accessible toilet on site that is wheelchair friendly. 

Our procedure for wheelchair users includes full access to the ride. When you arrive at our desk for check in you’ll be given a wrist band for the ride you’re doing (the Pioneer 330m zip line, the Xtreme 1km zip line or our Combo which is both the Pioneer and Xtreme in one!) and told a little about how your experience will take place. You’ll be asked to put any jewellery and anything in your pockets away so that we can get you ready to ride. At this point you will be given a harness and helmet briefing. Either the staff or someone who has come with you can help put your harness on your chair so that you can sit in your harness while still remaining in your chair to access the ride. After you have been given your harness and helmet we’re ready to go!

You’ll make your way to the start of the ride with a guide that will give you information about the ride itself, it’s construction, our eco sustainable practices and our beautiful state forest. You will be able to access the Pioneer ride using your chair, for our Xtreme ride you will need to be driven (2 minutes) to the starting point. When you get to the start of either ride the harness that you would already be sitting in at this point will be attached to our pulley that will take you on your adventure! Depending on your capability, you can either assist us in slightly raising yourself up to hook you on or someone who is with you can assist us in doing this. The harness you will be wearing is a paragliding harness and works like a big comfy hammock. One of the safety requirements for our ride is that you will need to hold on to the pulley that your harness is attached to and have your ankles together at all times. We have comfortable straps to assist you in doing this. Once you’re ready to go we’ll send you on your Crazy Ride! We also have GoPro’s for hire so that you can film your exciting experience.

At the bottom of the ride you will be welcomed by one of our friendly staff members! At this point you’ll be quizzed on your favourite parts of the ride itself and you’ll be disconnected. A chair provided by the park will be placed underneath you before you are unhooked and we will assist you back over to the office area. At this point your chair (which will have come down from the top of the ride via car) will be ready for you to transfer into. Once again, if you need assistance doing this, we are more than happy to help.


Integrating UD into recreation camp activities

Inclusive camp high ropesThere is no legislation within Australia to guide the design of sporting or leisure activities that enable participation by everyone at a level that suits them. Universal Design: Integrating the Principles into Camp Activities outlines the importance of universal design and ways in which environments, activities and programs within residential camps can be used by everyone. It shows how to apply the seven principles of universal design to all aspects of camp activities. Sport and Recreation Victoria and YMCA have made this report available to increase awareness and applicability of universal design in residential camps. The image shows how anyone can enjoy the flying fox on the “Skyrider”.

See also Universal Design: Camps & Consultation


Universal Design, Camps & Consultation

What are the best practice methods for consulting with users to implement universal design?

image shows people putting block of wood together to create a towerThis literature review captured articles about projects that attempted to achieve universal design or user-centred design by consulting with users throughout the design process. The studies were predominantly qualitative case studies, in which a variety of different methods were used. These techniques included the full participation of users in the design process, the use of hidden cameras, observation, focus groups, scaled cardboard models and 3-D virtual environments. Some important considerations for consulting with users are raised in the literature.

Download the Camps and Consultation report here

See also Integrating the principles of universal design into camps